Sunday, December 11, 2011

Advent Family Gathering last weekend

Hi Susan,

I have been meaning to reach out to you to say thank you for the wonderful Advent Spiral. That was my first experience of a Spindlewood Advent Spiral, and it was really magical. I have been telling everyone about it - and people just melt when they hear about the way you set it up...the candles in the driveway and along the path, the amazing harp music, the amazing spiral of greens and shells, the low light, your beautiful story, the intent, sweet looks on the faces of the children when they lit and placed their was really all so wonderful. I know it must take you a lot of time to set it up for us, and I just wanted to say a big, heartfelt thank you from this oh-so-appreciative Mama.

Take good care,


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thank You to All!

Thanks to all Spindlewoodians who prepared,crafted, schlepped, sold, shopped and stitched for the Yuletide Faire atAshwood this weekend. Such a gentle, joyful event. Wonderful to see thechildren’s delight at the puppet show and the wholesome, hand-made treasuresand good food. So heartwarming to see friends, colleagues and alumnae of 25years.
Our wool acorns were happily gathered bymany shoppers, as well as were the crafts from yesteryear. And 40 childrenstitched balsam pillows at our children’s table. Spindlewood brought in$258.50, so helpful during these lean time; but moreover we generated good will and fostered friendships with our wider community and our sister school AshwoodWaldorf School.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Letter to Parents

Just a few notes to give you a picture of our Spindlewood kindergarten mornings!

Now that the children have carried their lanterns through the November darkness, and returned to the kindergarten, each child seems to have found his or her way into the morning’s work and play. This morning began with children finding their own aprons, washing their hands in the basin of warm water and lemon oil that Miss Elisa has set out, and finding a place at the table to knead bread dough with her.

Afterwards, Seamus carefully sweeps the tabletop with the crumb brush and small
silver dust pan. He gives it his full attention.

In the main room, several children create a large “house” for the “kitten family”. Avery, Eve, Benjamin, Luka and Jonathan cover the playframes with sheets and bring food in for supper. There is a ramp for sliding in and out. Over the course of several weeks, the “wild cats” and dragons seem to have disappeared. With a little guidance, the children who at first seemed threatened by a “cat” have found ways to care for them – giving them food, helping them find a resting place, giving them a
scratch behind the ears, or wrap their paws in silk if they are “injured”. The
kittens seem content.

We have been seeing a silk marionette play at the seasonal table in recent days; one of our favorites, featuring a little girl whose fairy friends disappear with the autumn wind. To find them, she must find a “lantern” from the spindlewood tree (burning bush) and a “key” from the ash tree. When she finally finds her way to where her fairy friends are resting for the winter with Mother Earth, she is given a golden pouch of bulbs to plant in her moss garden. Hint: wouldn’t it be interesting if each child found a pouch like this for planting in his or her moss garden that
we create during Advent? As you have heard me say at various parent evenings, each year has its own unique character. This year, I am astonished at how this group of children LISTEN at story time! Such a gift.

Today, Amelia creates a play at the seasonal table. Silk cloths are carefully arranged as a landscape for all of their characters and Amelia quietly narrates the story. Elsa, Lucy and James pull up chairs and listen intently. Afterwards, Lucy and Elsa create a story.

Tor sits beside me at the spinning wheel with the drawing that he has brought from home today. “A famous one” that he has shown to all of his classmates as they arrived. I am spinning wool from Buttercup that we have carded on the carding machine, a little each day, on the picnic table. Tor is fascinated by the process and is keenly interested in all of the steps. When this spool is filled, we will ply two
strands together to make yarn suitable for knitting mittens.

Before circle time, we compose a Thank You note to Elsa’s dad for making a new xylophone stick for us! Later, Miss Elisa and Miss Susan hold a huge red fabric tube (loaned by Madrona – thanks!) and children line up to crawl through. As our therapeutic friends would say, it is a thorough tactile and vestibular experience. (Besides, it is great fun!)

At the table, the children tell many tales about sightings and encounters of skunks, raccoons and other woodland creatures. We also read from Blinkin’s travel log. Thanks to all of you for hosting our knitted gnome friend Blinkin as he travels home with a different child each day, and for assisting with his journal entries!

Outside, the children have established fairy houses (read "small scale construction" if you are standard-conscious) along the stone wall, with secret passwords. And a city with walls, lake, bridge and island is created in the sandbox. A swing has come
loose, so together we carry a ladder from the barn for the necessary repair.
“This is a two-man job”, says Tor as he hoists the ladder with me.

Oh, so much more happens in the course of the morning, but you get the picture of how we are settling in for the winter together.

Thanks to those who have helped with the preparations and sign-up for the Yuletide Faire. If you can’t make it to the Faire, you may find our plump wool acorns on the shelf in the mudroom for sale…perfect for Thanksgiving party favors or hostess gift!

There will be no school next week. Happy travels and family meals to all! See you again November 29th.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Family Festival for 11/11/11

Martinmas Lantern Walk
Spindlewood Families and Friends
Thursday, November 10, 4:30 – 5:15 pm

This week in the kindergarten, each child will make a paper lantern by folding and cutting one of his or her watercolor paintings. They will be ready when you arrive
for the Lantern Walk. You are welcome to bring other candle lanterns, also, but
please no flashlights!

'Martinmas', November 11, is a festival with European roots. Martin (named for Mars) was a Roman soldier of the fourth century who gave his cloak to a beggar. (This was more than an act of charity. It was considered to be an act of treason.) Later in a dream Martin saw Christ clothed in his cloak. He subsequently devoted the rest of his life to helping the poor. He was a man who carried an inner light in
a time of darkness.

This festival provides us with an opportunity to consciously mark the point in the cycle of the year when the light and warmth of the sun is retreating. The Lantern Walk allows us to experience the change of season in a sensory way.

A small bonfire and warm apple cider that we pressed at our Harvest Celebration will await families upon their arrival at the kindergarten. When all are gathered we will celebrate the circle time that the children are doing in the kindergarten. In the Waldorf School, we wait until second grade to tell stories of the saints. So our circle game presents a picture of the elemental beings whose task it is to bring cosmic light into the earth, bringing life to the seeds and light to the growth of crystals.

After the circle, parents or grandparents may light the children’s lanterns (we will provide long matches that you may wish to keep just in case a lantern needs to be rekindled) and I will lead the way along the lighted path. The walk is not long but the experience is memorable. Stepping into the darkness we are guided only by the
light of our lanterns and the luminaries placed along the pathway and the full
moon (if I remember to turn off the automatic spotlight on the barn!) We may
hear an owl, a crackling stick, or the wind. We return to find the bonfire extinguished, but the sparks of light in our lanterns creating a large circle of
warmth and community. We sing a final song, receive a ginger cookie and then
carry the lanterns with the same quiet intention to your cars and on to your

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

All Souls' Day

The day after Hallowe'en the children brought in photos of their grandparents and family members who have passed away. We created a special place of honor for them on our window sill, with silks and flowers.
The puppet play this week tells the story of a brother and sister who meet their grandparents in the Land of Memory and experience their love and joy in being remembered.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Thanks going out to all of you who could join us for the Cider Harvest Festival. The weather held off while parents assisted the children in climbing, shaking, picking, gathering, washing, chopping and pressing! Whew! What good work. Thanks especially to those who stayed and filled our cart with cider for our year together. So glad that our alumni and older siblings, Shamus, Elias, Ella and Yonah could join us for this Homecoming event also.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A+ for Finland

Our neighbor just dropped off this month's Smithsonian with the article "A+ for Finland".

Imagine: Children in Finland aren't required to go to school until they're 7. Standardized tests are rare. And yet the Nordic nation's success in education is off the charts. Children spend far more time playing outside, even in the depths of winter. Homework is minimal.

Finland also provides three years of maternity leave and preschool for all 5 year olds, where the emphasis is on play and socializing.

The emphasis is on cooperation rather than competition, and it works. Perhaps because the people in the government agencies running schools in Finland, from national officials to local authorities, are educators, not business people, military leaders or career politicians.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Still an Opening in the Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday Kindergarten for 3-5 year olds

There are still a couple of openings for 3-5 year olds on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for our mixed-aged Waldorf preschool kindergarten. Located near the Silverio family homestead on Proctor Road, just one mile from Center General Store.

This letter came from a 4 year old whose family is moving out of the area:

"Thank you for sliding on the ice pond. Thank you for teaching me how to pump on the swing. Thank you for knitting balls and the moss garden....Thank you for the porridge story. Thank you for sledding down the big hill. Thank you for letting us visit the sheep and chickens. Thank you for baking and snacks...Thank you for letting us visit the frogs at the frog pond. Thank you for swinging us on the twisty swing. Thank you for letting us sand things. Thank you for letting us do everything...Love, J."

Friday, August 5, 2011

Now Enrolling Parent-Child Morning Garden!

Now enrolling!

Spindlewood Waldorf

Parent-Child Morning Garden

A gentle and nurturing environment ~
For parents and children ages 1 - 3 years
With creative activities, story, circle time & snack

with Elisa Olds

Monday mornings, 9-11:30 ~ Beginning September 19
$275/semester, Siblings up to one year are welcome free of charge.

Spindlewood Waldorf Kindergarten and LifeWays Center
105 Proctor Road, Lincolnville, Maine 04849
Contact Susan at 763-4652,

Monday, May 2, 2011

Buried Treasure!

Yes, it's true. Avery and Lily dug up buried treasure today. More amazingly (thank you dear parents) they carefully divided it among all of their classmates, including those who were absent.There was great jubilation, almost as much as the discovery that the frog eggs had hatched!

Now...does anyone have any clues about these coins? They bear the stamp of a Pine Tree, and are dated 1652. Is there a history sleuth among us???

Thursday, April 28, 2011

This Week at Spindlewood

The season of hope and renewal dawned this Easter Monday with birdsong, flowers and a pond full of frog eggs. When I brought a pot of hard-boiled eggs to the table, I thought perhaps two or three children would be drawn from their imaginative play, but I was surprised when every child present immediately found a place around the table and gazed intently as they quietly awaited their turn to dip an egg into the glass bowl of water, turmeric and vinegar. In only a moment, the eggs were turned a light gold, and the children were thrilled at the transformation.

We placed the eggs in a basket to dry, and later, as we finished our circle time, the children noticed that the basket was empty! We all ran outside into the new warmth and the children dashed around, delighted to find the eggs among the flowers or in the roots of the trees. They began to sing spontaneously the song from our morning circle game, “Easter eggs are hiding everywhere!”

Then Clayton discovered a large golden goose egg under the tulip leaves! He held it up in wonder. It sounded like something was inside. “Let’s open it!” So, with all of the children gathering, I cracked the hard shell. We found it filled with nasturtium seeds. Later that morning each child planted one in potting soil. Now we will wait and watch!

On Tuesday we began a new morning circle with the verse:

A tired caterpillar went to sleep one day
In a snug little cradle of silken grey
And he said as he softly curled up in his nest
‘O crawling is nice, but rest is best.’

He slept through the winter long and cold
All tightly up in his blanket rolled.
He awoke to find he had golden wings
And no longer need crawl over sticks and things.

‘Oh, the earth’ is nice said the glad butterfly,
‘But the sky is best when we learn to fly’.

Each child takes a turn to be wrapped up in our gray woolen afghan, then at the end of the verse he or she emerges in a golden silk to flutter around the room.

That morning, the four children who are six or turning six years old this school year began a woodworking project. Each sanded a small piece of thin wood and chose an art postcard to mount on their plaque. When they finish, each will carry it with him or her “over the bridge” on the last day of school June 7.

On Wednesday, it was so warm that the children could play outside during free play time before circle. After this long winter, they are longing to immerse themselves in the rediscovery of the flowing stream, the tree house, and yes, sand and mud! They created a huge “volcano” in the sandbox and brought bucket after bucket from the rain barrel to fill it until it did, in fact, hold water.

In his digging, Avery was surprised to find an old coin, and he took it as a sign to dig for buried treasure. We found a spot that would likely appeal to pirates, and he and Lily R. set to work! Soon their hole filled with water, preventing further digging, but they have high hopes that next week will bring new developments.

To be continued…..

Friday, April 22, 2011

note from a parent

We ate pancakes a la Spindlewood syrup yesterday and Ben was so proud and appreciative at once. Thank you for making that seasonal chore/treat a priority at Spindlewood. It really helps the little ones get back outside and active after such deep snow drifts and biting winds. I love it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

This Week at Spindlewood

Dear Parents,

So wonderful to return from my travels and find the children to be thriving in the care of Miss Elisa and Miss Kerry. While I was away, Sarah Baldwin was here to observe Elisa and Kerry as their mentor in the LifeWays Early Childhood training. Laina Clugston has also visited the Nursery Class as Sarah Smith’s mentor. We are grateful for their support and wise guidance.

The Nursery class had happily gathered the last of the maple sap and gathered up the buckets. So this week we boiled down the final kettle of syrup and I poured it into jars hot from the oven while the children were at play. Each child has a small jar to bring home. Miss Elisa cooked a mountain of pancakes that day and we finally had our long-awaited Pancake Day on Tuesday. What spring appetites!

Such an exciting day it was to hear the first “croak!” from the frog pond, and to see a mother and father robin all aflutter as they seek a place for a nest.

On Wednesday we celebrated Seamus’ birthday with his family and the twin babies Finn and Erin making their debut. What joy! Seamus brought felted bead necklaces to share with each of his classmates. Thank you, Amy!

Afterwards, the children did some wet felting of their own to make woolen “robins’ eggs” to put into their wheat grass gardens to bring home.

(Maintenance tips: the maple syrup is well sealed. Please refrigerate after opening. The wheat grass can be cut if it gets too long. Cats and chickens like to eat it! If watered moderately, it will continue to stay green. Thanks for recycling the bowls with us when they are finished. The felted wool eggs can be dunked into warm soapy water for cleaning or ongoing felting.)

Wednesday was a rainy day and the children were delighted to find the mud again after a long winter of walking on snow. Thanks so much for providing rain or snow pants, extra mittens/gloves and a change of socks!

This week’s puppet play has dramatized the wonder of a caterpillar’s metamorphosis into a butterfly. The children have listened intently at the caterpillars feeling that he was dissolving into green juice and wondering if he could ever change. But yes, with the Sun now rising over our horizon, all will soon be renewed and transformed into spring.

Miss Elisa also hosted an Independent School Association Open House last weekend. I have been enjoying meeting with the administrators of the six other independent schools in the Camden/Rockport area. One of our recent developments is an ISA "Hub" Website created by Tim Wilson. You can check it out at!

Of course, we always welcome families who are looking for a preschool/kindergarten to come visit us for a casual tour. So please let your friends know. There are still openings in both the Nursery and the Kindergarten classes.

This coming week April 18-22 is Spring Vacation. One of my tasks this week is to complete the “Crosswalk” process that will allow Spindlewood to be recognized by the state as a Quality Center for Children. (Read my lips ~ tax credits for parents!)

Sending spring love to you all,

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Maple Sugaring Season

Dear Spindlewood Parents,

Looking forward to welcoming you all back this week. (It has been so quiet around here!)

Just before the break, “Mr. Jack” helped us tap the big maple tree in front of the barn. (You can barely see it behind the snow bank.) The first few drops of sweet sap have started to flow. We are waiting for Old King Winter to fall asleep on our seasonal table, so that the water fairies can dance up from the roots to meet their friends, the returning sun fairies. This is the story I will be telling this week, presenting in picture form the process of the sap flow that requires freezing nights and above-freezing sunny days. With a little luck we might have some maple syrup to celebrate a traditional (British) Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday next week on the day before Ash Wednesday!

Here’s the song we sing at our 12:30 closing circle~

Mix a pancake, Stir a pancake, Pop it in the pan,
Fry a pancake, Toss a pancake, Catch it if you can!

Toward the end of Lent we will plant our Easter wheat grass gardens. If you would kindly return the bowls from the Advent moss gardens, we would like to recycle them.

This Tuesday you are all invited to a Parents’ Evening, 6:30 – 8 pm in the kindergarten. It would be great if one parent from each family could attend; better yet, find child care now and so you can both go out on a date afterwards! (What extraordinarily lucky children these are to all have both parents creating a home for them!) Once again, by special request, we will have a topic of Working with the Will of Young Children. Perhaps it will always be a mystery to ponder. Dr. Rudolf Steiner shared insights from a lifetime of research. I could touch on these, and how this affects our practice of the 3 R’s of Waldorf/LifeWays, as you know, Rhythm, Repetition and Respect/Reverence. And then we will share an experience of this with Beeswax Modeling, an activity that you can also do at home. It will be fun.

See you soon,